Detectives use woman's DNA to crack 1997 cold case of dead infant found in Seattle gas station restroom

Police arrested a woman more than 23 years after her newborn son was found dead inside a Seattle gas station restroom.

The newborn was found inside a trash can in a Chevron gas station restroom on Nov. 20, 1997, according to a Seattle Police Department blotter post on Wednesday. The gas station, located at 8721 Lake City Way NE, is now a Shell gas station.

Investigators said gas station staff found the child inside a trash bin and called police. Detectives were not sure if the child was born alive, but the King County Medical Examiner later determined that the child had been born alive. SPD detectives then began investigating the case as a homicide.

Gas station surveillance footage shows the woman entering the store on Nov. 20. Investigators obtained DNA evidence at the scene and worked with the Washington State Patrol Crime Lab’s database to find a match. Police throughout the years received leads but were unable to identify the woman.

In 2018, detectives began re-investigating the woman possibly involved in the death of the infant after obtaining information from a public genealogy website. Detectives found a possible DNA match that also fit the description of the woman from the 1997 surveillance footage. 

Investigators conducted an undercover operation to obtain the woman’s DNA that later matched the sample from the crime lab database. 

On March 11, 2021, investigators interviewed the 50-year-old woman and arrested her. She was booked into the King County Jail for Investigation of Homicide. She has not yet been formally charged.

The King County Prosecutor’s Office says she is expected to have her first court appearance hearing on Friday, March 12 at the King County Jail. A judge is expected to set her bail during the hearing.